The Iowa State Supreme Court today affirmed an earlier agreement that a hog farmer must leave a “buffer strip” between his manure storage and a well-known trout fishing stream in northeastern Iowa. Phil Dorff is the lawyer for Hawkeye Fly Fishing Association, which joined the lawsuit by the Sierra Club. French Creek is one of only a handful of “spring streams” in Iowa that has a population of naturally-reproducing trout. Hog manure’s very toxic to fish as well as plants and other aquatic wildlife in the streams. Most importantly, the manure-spreading plan that has to be filed and approved by the DNR had the Sierra Club and Hawkeye Fly-Fishing members concerned that a heavy rainfall would wash the manure into the creek. The plaintiffs had started legal action to address their concerns but instead reached a mediated agreement with farmer Wayne Weber that he’d spread manure on his fields no closer than 200 feet from the stream. That “buffer strip” would be planted in prairie grass under the agreement. That deep-rooted kind of plant will block manure from flowing down the hill and into the French Creek watershed, a buffer strip that’s one way to protect natural resources from a danger like, in this case, hog manure. The mediation led to an agreement but Dorff says after that, things began to come apart. Perhaps out of “buyers remorse,” the farmer refused to sign the agreement they’d reached, so they took it to court and a trial court and now the Iowa Supreme Court agreed that Mr Weber, the farmer, has to do what he said he’d do. Winning the ruling won’t mean any money for the Sierra Club or the anglers’ association, just an assurance that the river will remain clean, their lawyer says. There’s no monetary implications except for the cost to the farmer of planting the prairie grass buffer-strip, and he has to refrain from spreading manure on parts of his land in the French Creek watershed. Dorff’s an angler himself, and says many people don’t know Iowa has a number of cold “spring streams” that are good for trout fishing. He says the fly fishing association represents a good-sized group of avid anglers who’ll be glad to learn the resource is protected by today’s ruling.
You are here: / / Supreme Court upholds ruling protecting trout stream